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WRESTLING COLUMNS

The Importance Of Tag Teams
October 21, 2006 by Chris Evans


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When I think about the history of wrestling, one match comes to mind as the pivotal defining moment in wrestling history. It was at Wrestlemania 17. The fans were cheering, practically jumping out of their seats waiting for the main event to begin. Two giants in pro-wrestling were going to square off against each other for the World Heavyweight Title in a classic Tables, Ladders and Chairs match. Matt Hardy was going to face off against Devon Dudley!

Oh, wait...this match never happened.

And thank God it didn't. No one would pay to see Matt Hardy face Devon Dudley. What they would pay for, however, is the Hardy Boys facing the Dudley Boys facing Edge and Christian in a triple threat TLC match. Why is that" Why is it that some tag team wrestlers just won't get over as singles wrestlers" Let's take a quick look through tag wrestlers who have had failed singles careers. Jim Neidhart, Marty Jannetty, Scotty Riggs, Charlie Haas, all of La Resistance, and Road Warrior Animal.

Now, on the flip side, there a ton of wrestlers who broke out of the tag division to become mega-stars. The two most notable are Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart, with people like Shelton Benjamin coming to mind as well.

So, what's my point" My point is...the IC and US titles are not sufficient for mid-carders anymore. Both titles have not been written into major story lines in years, and they are basically looked at as a second tier title, as opposed to ECW's old TV Title and TNA's X-Division Title, which are viewed as a separate honor rewarding a superstar for a separate kind of wrestling.

That is why the Tag Division is so important. It serves two functions...it takes less talented stars and hides their weaknesses and takes talented stars and allows them a platform to begin their popular singles careers.

I will use two examples, one from each line of thought, to make my example.

Let's take a look at a guy like Chris Masters. Chris Masters CANNOT carry a match for a World Title program - he just can't. No matter how he is booked, his work in the ring is that of a poor man's Batista. His program with Jeff Hardy would make sense IF Masters had been built up - his return hyped - and he wasn't just a guy wearing trunks (cause, honestly - define Chris Master's gimmick in ten words or less. He's a guy...who...um...thinks...he's good" Come on. EVERY WRESTLER has that gimmick! )

What Masters needs is a tag team partner. In this writer's opinion, he was at his best when he was with Carlito. Team him with someone who is doing nothing right now (possibly Val Venis, Charlie Haas, Rob Conway or even Shelton Benjamin) and DEFINE these guys. Tag in Masters for power moves, cocky cheap shots, distracting the ref, etc. This guy, in a twenty minute match, would only have to work about 5-7 minutes of it, greatly underexposing his weaknesses, and using his strengths - the old Paul Heyman formula to success - which has definite results (Sandman, Tommy Dreamer). His strengths, in my opinion, are his look, his intensity, his ability to dominate in the ring. Use these to SELL HIM! And then - once he and his partner win the tag team titles - they won't be laughed at and mocked online as "goofs with no talent" - they'd be looked at as credible.

Now, there is the other side of the spectrum. The Tag Team Division's ability to produce new stars. Johnny Nitro comes to mind. Remember where that young man was as Eric Bischoff's buddy backstage. Remember his epic feuds with - um...wait...oh, let's be honest - the guy was about as entertaining as leaves falling. But - he was repackaged. He was sent to Smackdown!, given a tag team partner (the amazingly talented Joey Matthews) - and then the team split up. In the meantime - Nitro had gained the credibility as a performer to make a singles career for himself. He won the IC title within days of his debut on RAW. If that doesn't speak for itself - I don't know what does.

So, all I'm saying is - maybe the tag division should be booked with a little more philosophy. It helps the talent-less look talented and it helps the talented move ahead. It's a fully functioning training machine. The Tag division is an essential function to keep viewer-ship up and to have less wasted talent in the WWE. It is imperative that the Tag Division is not a jumbling of talent, but solid teams, formed with thought and formula to help hide weaknesses and accentuate talent.

by Chris Evans


Milke Corbin wrote:
i totally agree.i am a big tag team fan,my favorite being mnm.your so right.johnny nitro being in mnm really helped him.i just wonder what joey mercury will get out of it.i have yet to see him get anything much but a few small matches in ovw.
Brent Matthew Denny wrote: The Tag Team Titles Are Not That Vital.

Chris Evans what you have said is both right and wrong. First off I do not believe that the likes of Jim Neidhart Marty Jannetty Charlie Haas or Road Warrior Animal have failed in their singles career's I personally do not think that Road Warrior Animal or Neidhart or Jannetty where given their chances or where pushed properly. I mean the Grizzled Veteran gimmick that Road Warrior Animal I thought was good I just didn't like the fact that they had him continually loosing and as for Marty Jannetty I don't believe that the WWE has ever allowed him to step out of Shawn Michaels shadow. I mean think about it after HBK turned on Jannetty what happened Jannetty was later brought back to feud with Michaels win the IC title and then loose it. An then earlier this year Jannetty was brought back again why because he was the tag team partner of the more successful Shawn Michaels and the only reason Shawn Michaels is a success is because he was pushed.

Just like "the world famous legendary hall of famer" Bret "The Hitman" Hart the only reason that ego maniac got over was because he was pushed more than his former tag team associate Jim "The Anvil Neidhart" and what I don't understand is why"

Why was Jannetty why was Road Warrior Animal and why was Neidhart never given the opportunity in the cases of Jannetty and Neidhart that their tag team partners where given because in my opinion Neidhart was better than Hart and Jannetty could have made it just as big as Michaels.

Moving on. I also disagree on what you said about the IC title and US title yes they aren't being used properly at the moment but that doesn't mean they aren't useful I mean take a look at people who have held those titles and gone on to bigger and better things.

Intercontinental Champions: Austin, HHH, HBK, RVD, Chris Jericho

United States Champions: Eddie Guerrero, Big Show, John Cena, Booker T

If the WWE used those two titles the way they are supposed to be used in my opinion then people like Finlay Regal Lashley and Matt Hardy would be able to move on up the ladder.

Another thing I disagree on is what you had to say about Chris Masters. I personally think that what Chris Masters needs is to be pushed more and his gimmick is similar to the gimmick Rick Rude and Lex Luger had when he was the Narcissist. I personally think it is working for him and I personally also think that Chris Masters is a better wrestler on his own and he is a dam sure better wrestler than Carlito. All Chris Master's needs is to be given a shot at the IC title and a reign as the IC champion if the WWE pushed him or used him properly I dare say that Chris Masters could be a future WWE Champion.

An finally I disagree in what you say about the tag team division yes it is important yes it can help to push wrestlers but it is not as important as the single titles. Woman's, Cruiserweight, IC, US, WWE and World Heavyweight. Those are the titles that count these days and those are the ones that should always count and the tag team titles should be the second tier titles.

Of course that is just my personally opinion.
Steven P. wrote:
First of all, tag team wrestling is a cornerstone of professional wrestling. The WWF/E Tag Team Division has existed since 1971. For 36 years, tag teams were a major part of the biggest wrestling show, WrestleMania. At WrestleMania VII, there were four tag team matches in that one show. Remember Summerslam 1999, and there were six teams involved in a Tag Team Turmoil Match. Remember 2001, when Chris Benoit & Chris Jericho defeated Steve Austin & Triple H for the WWF Tag Team Championship. Well, these comments are directed to Brent Matthew Denny. By the way, your comments on Bret Hart are completely insane. Jim Neidhart would have never made it to Bret Hart's rank because, with no offense to Neidhart, Bret could wrestle. Seriously, when The Hart Foundation were a tag team, Bret did all of the technical maneuvers and Neidhart just slammed people and did power stuff. He didn't wrestle. You do have a case for Marty Jannetty, because he was and still is a pretty good wrestler. In my opinion, what Tag Team wrestling needs now is a major match involving four main event wrestlers for the straps. Maybe DX vs. Randy Orton & Edge. That would revive the division as a whole. To the author, I thought that this was one of the better columns that I've read in quite some time. It's good to see that I'm not the only one who cares about this state of wrestling.
David Temrick wrote:
I agree with you to a point. If you take examples like Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart you have two men who started as part of a team with solid performers. Say what you will about Marty Janetti, but the guy is still wrestling and teaching young guys the ropes and how to properly sell moves after the wrestling schools teach them the painfull and career shortening falls. Jim Neidhart is a prime example of someone who loved wrestling so much that his daughter followed in his footsteps, and she's good too.

The case can always be made for teams that need to stay as teams. The Road Warriors, The Outsiders, Rock n' Roll Express, La Resistance (ya, their annoying, but come on...that was the point). Tag teams are often used in the indi circuit to train the new guys how the business works. Anyone who watched the Jake Roberts DVD can see that training in practice. This obviously doesn't always work, all the talent in the world won't create ambition and desire and often when a tag team is split up they miss working together and their singles careers suffer, or they just can't carry a match on their own.

Now. The traditional tandem tag team is a completely lost art in the WWE, however, TNA seems to be honestly giving it a run. With LAX, AMA and the two great X-Division ex-champs Angel and Styles they really seem to be going for that look similar, wrestle in unison tandem glory that was traditional wrestling.

I think what everyone has to keep in mind is that wrestling in like any other business, what's "in" one year is "out" another year and they have to cater to the consumer. If there were more tandem tag team fans there would be more tandem tag teams. It's just that simple. Vince in nothing if he's not a marketing genius. Nothing seems to be working for the WWE lately and it's leaving the marketing guru scratching his head. I thought with the "Rockers" reunion we saw a few months back we'd see a rebirth of tandem tag teams, but the fan base just isn't there.

I love tandem wrestling, unfortunately I have to goto e-feds to get my fix. It's a sad state of affairs, but I really wish we'd see more tag teams as well. I just don't think the average fan cares much for it anymore. We got tandem tag teamed out in the 80's and 90's.
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